HENDERSON, Nev. — Was it the NHL’s annual preseason media occasion, or was it “Nathan MacKinnon: Unleashed”?

It was the preseason media occasion, truly — however nonetheless, MacKinnon stole the present. He was nice. On a lot of subjects. We’re not going to spoil it for you.

The higher half? MacKinnon wasn’t alone. He was one in all 35 gamers to make the media rounds final week at one of many Golden Knights’ observe rinks exterior Las Vegas. Every workforce was represented, although Sidney Crosby and Dylan Larkin needed to reduce their days brief.

What follows are the very best bits from 33 of the NHL’s largest stars, together with MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and Cale Makar, with bonus factors going to Jonathan Huberdeau, Cam Atkinson and Max Domi. They have been standouts on their very own benefit. Most of all, they offered a pleasant reminder that the beginning of the season isn’t far.

Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers

For six years in Columbus, John Tortorella coached Cam Atkinson. Their relationship, Atkinson mentioned, is “unique” — and tight. Atkinson vouched for Tortorella whereas the Flyers have been making their teaching rent, then received a particular shoutout within the handwritten letter Tortorella despatched to his new workforce after he received the job.

Yes, each season — in handwriting that Atkinson mentioned “could be improved” — John Tortorella pens, photocopies, stamps and sends a lil’ be aware to his guys.

“(The letter) is explaining what’s going to happen during training camp — and threatening everyone,” Atkinson mentioned. “He put within the letter, ‘We’re doing a skate check. It’s gonna be arduous. And when you have questions, ask Cam.’ You can think about clearly, everybody has reached out, form of choosing my mind. 

“When he did get the job, he’s all fired up. I was on the phone with him on speaker. My wife’s sitting next to me. She’s like, ‘I can’t wait to get that handwritten letter. (Tortorella) goes, ‘Oh, it’s funny, Nat, because I’m actually writing it as we speak.’”

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

Barry Trotz may not be round anymore, however Barzal — the Islanders’ most gifted ahead however one who struggled to repeat the manufacturing of his rookie season — mentioned to not anticipate all gasoline, no brakes beneath Lane Lambert.

“I need to still do those things that make top players successful. I still need to backcheck hard. I still need to play hard defensively. It’s not like I’m just going to be skating around, run and gun, no stopping on pucks. That’s just not winning hockey at the end of day. It’s maybe fun hockey, but I’ve learned through Barry and through Lou that the way you win is playing the right way,” Barzal mentioned.

“Maybe I will have a little more … I don’t know. It just comes down to doing the right things, and then maybe I get a little more leeway on the other side of the puck. But at the end of the day, I gotta do the right things defensively for me to be successful.”

Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011. That’s a well-worn truth. Over the previous decade-plus. although, there haven’t been many larger causes for optimism than their 16-9-3 end final season. Things are getting higher in Buffalo, and Dahlin doesn’t must look far for proof of how town will react when significant video games return.

“I’ve been talking about it today,” he mentioned. “The thing that makes me most excited about (improving) and stuff is — you see the Bills. They made the playoffs and it’s thousands of people waiting outside the airport. It’s such a passionate sports town. That’s what makes me most excited.”

Dahlin, the No. 1 decide in 2018 and a brand new entry on The Athletic’s checklist of the highest 100 NHL gamers this 12 months, took a significant step ahead final season, as did a number of of his teammates. “We only got better and better and better,” he mentioned, “and we ended the year in the best way possible.”

Phillip Danault, Los Angeles Kings

Over his final couple of years in Montreal, Danault earned a popularity as the most effective defensive facilities within the league. In his first season with the Kings, he confirmed that he had untapped offensive potential, as nicely, ending with 27 targets. Playing with Anze Kopitar, he mentioned, helped unlock one thing.

“I wasn’t the only one taking defensive draws. I had a different role. They used me in different ways and gave me the opportunity to prove to myself, too,” he mentioned. “I got to show some skill I didn’t know I had.”

Danault’s solutions have been considerate throughout the board, together with one about how Cup-winning veterans Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick are as soon as once more a part of a playoff workforce.

“I think they’ve been patient enough, you know? It’s probably hard to go through the whole process of rebuilding. It’s probably frustrating,” Danault mentioned. “They know we have a chance to do damage again. So it’s probably exciting for them. They’re still really good, all of them.”

Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks

Domi, recent off signing a one-year cope with the Blackhawks — a deal he admitted candidly and publicly was agreed to nicely earlier than free company — was probably the most cordial, charismatic gamers to talk with.

He was hilarious speaking concerning the trials and tribulations of being a locker-room DJ. The greatest he’s seen operating the sound system “in terms of reading the room” was Jakub Voracek in Columbus.

“He loves his classics. He loves Bruce Springsteen, and he sings — virtually performs. He loves it. Very good voice. Unbelievable.

“I used to be the DJ in London and it is without doubt one of the most undercover, hardest expertise in hockey. To be the locker room DJ, you will have 20 critics, and each single one in all them loves totally different stuff. And relying on what the time of the day or the place we’re at within the season — if it’s a observe day, sport day, morning, wherever it’s — you’re going to play totally different stuff.

“So you’ve got to be ready to go and quick on your feet. So my iPod is full of anything from rap to old school rap to country to folk to pop, hard rock, metal. You have to have everything because you’ve got to please as many guys as you can.”

Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights

After a nightmarish separation with the Buffalo Sabres, Eichel has moved on and is settled in Vegas.

But Buffalo will at all times maintain a particular place in his coronary heart.

First, he’ll miss Chef’s, a favourite Italian restaurant that’s been round since 1923. Second, his girlfriend is from Buffalo, so he at all times plans to return, as he did this summer time.

“There’s a lot of great restaurants here, but I don’t know if there’s anything that quite compares to Chef’s. Chef’s is a special, unique place. I miss it. It’s great. Chef’s is the best. But there’s so many great places here to eat. Obviously, you have the world-class restaurants that are down on the Strip, but there’s so many great places to eat out in Summerlin.”

As for his girlfriend: “I met her in college, which is pretty crazy. I met her before I got drafted. She was going to Northeastern. It’s pretty crazy you meet a girl at a bar that’s from Buffalo and then five months later, you (get) drafted to Buffalo. Pretty crazy, right? People don’t believe me, but 7 ½ or whatever years later, we’re still together.”

Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild

Fleury, one of many league’s greatest locker room sensible jokers, crammed two days’ price of media-tour duties into one, however he nonetheless had time to tape previous Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby’s gear right into a ball.

Because of his condensed time in Vegas, Fleury didn’t meet up with the nationwide media. But The Athletic was in a position to meet up with him and discuss an eventful summer time wherein he performed beer-league hockey, re-signed with the Wild and went from pondering he’d be in a tandem with Cam Talbot to now the No. 1 with teen Filip Gustavsson as his backup.

About that beer league? Every Monday evening, at 8:30 p.m. after placing his youngsters to mattress, Fleury performed with a bunch of buddies and their co-workers.

Not in purpose. At ahead.

“I loved it because I’m so used to playing goalie, but growing up, I always played forward when I could,” Fleury mentioned. “Outside, pond hockey or street hockey, always forward. It’s fun to see a different side of things and trying to be in the right spot for guys. I’m more disher than scorer. I like to pass the puck around a little bit.”

As for re-signing with the Wild for 2 years, Fleury was shocked when Talbot scoffed on the notion of being a tandem and primarily compelled his method out of city by complaining to GM Bill Guerin. Just a few days after Fleury re-signed, Talbot was traded to Ottawa for Gustavsson.

“Yeah, surprised,” Fleury, 37, mentioned. “I anticipated to be sharing with Cam. He was an excellent man and nice to me proper once I got here in. So, a bit shocked. But it’ll be an opportunity to play a bit extra. I really like enjoying, proper? So it’ll be enjoyable and a superb probability to battle to make the playoffs.

“Now, I’m the old guy again. The last few years, I’ve been the old one. It’s good to learn from the kids. I’m looking forward to playing with Gus.”

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks

No participant smiled greater than Hertl. His popularity in that space precedes him — and there’s a motive for it.

“I always love to smile,” he mentioned. “I at all times attempt to make good jokes. But on the identical time, I respect all the things. My dad and mom by no means have cash so I needed to work all my life for all the things, you recognize? Every time I desire a new stick, I’ve to work on my grandfather’s yard to get it. It wasn’t like, ‘OK, here is new stick.’

Hertl’s new contract, by the best way, pays him greater than $65 million over eight years: “I think I appreciated all the work and that’s why it’s nice. I can get, especially, my parents everything back. I can buy a new car for them. Because they just put every single (bit of) what they have. Every money. My dad never wore anything nice just so I can have sticks for the game.”

Hertl can also be, rapidly, one of many Sharks’ elder statesmen at 28, particularly after Brent Burns’ commerce to Carolina.

“I feel like our team was a little bit older — (Joe) Pavelski, (Joe) Thornton) — and I was always the young guy. I feel like now I didn’t have time to be in the middle group,” he mentioned with amusing. “I’m looking forward because I always want to be the leader. And hopefully I learned something from all these top guys and I can be the guy other young guys are looking to.”

Jonathan Huberdeau, Calgary Flames

It took Huberdeau two weeks of glumness and anger to show the web page, however he has lastly moved on after being traded to the Calgary Flames from Florida together with MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 first-round decide for Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth.

“Just a quiet summer,” Huberdeau mentioned, laughing, when greeting reporters. “Nothing happened.”

Told about Quinn Hughes’ feedback (see under) about being excited to see the Flames go downward after which disillusioned by common supervisor Brad Treliving’s spectacular restocking on the fly, Huberdeau mentioned, “I think (Panthers GM) Bill Zito just helped him … giving them the players he gave.”

Huberdeau didn’t even crack a smile as if he have been joking. He was severe as a coronary heart assault.

“I imply, Matthew — don’t get me incorrect, he’s a extremely good participant. And he was actually good with Calgary. He’s gonna be good with the Panthers. But I feel having me and Weegs and a younger child and a first-round (decide), I feel it’s lots. Calgary misplaced their two greatest gamers (in Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau), and now they’ll substitute them. And I feel Tree did an incredible job. 

“We’ll see when we start playing because, yeah, it’s a trade, but we haven’t started playing. So we’ve got to do the job on the ice. And adding Naz (Kadri), too, that’s going to be the cherry on the sundae. It’s gonna be good. New chapter.”

Just a few weeks later, with out even gearing up for the Flames or seeing if he favored town, Huberdeau signed an eight-year, $84 million extension. Tkachuk equally had signed for eight years. Asked why gamers commit so lengthy to a company with out seeing in the event that they prefer it first, Huberdeau mentioned, “You want to commit to a team. And my philosophy, I didn’t want to go there and be like half in. I wanted to be 100 percent in, and that’s what I was thinking. So I was like, I didn’t want to try it out if I’m gonna like it or not. I’m gonna go out there and play as hard as I can, and now I know I’ll be a Calgary Flame for the next nine years.” 

Huberdeau added that he would have cherished to promote his South Florida home to Tkachuk.

“But he bought quick,” he mentioned, laughing.

Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils

Neither Hughes brother has performed a postseason sport in entrance of followers simply but. When it occurs for Quinn, don’t anticipate Jack to tug a “Brady Tkachuk in Calgary”-type transfer within the stands.

“I don’t think you’d see me with eight beers in my pocket,” Jack Hughes mentioned. “Might have one in front of me up in the box. But I won’t be with Canucks faithful, that’s for sure. … It suits Brady well.”

On the “other” Jack Hughes, the 51st total decide within the 2022 draft, by the Kings: “Apparently I went through the draft process again. Rated 50th this year, too.”

Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks

Hughes hoped the Flames, one in all Vancouver’s Pacific Division rivals, have been down for the rely after Johnny Gaudreau walked in free company and Matthew Tkachuk landed in Florida.

“I would have liked to see them go like this,” Hughes mentioned as he made the common roller-coaster-goes-down movement.

“But it seems like they went like this.” He pointed towards the ceiling. Calgary, in fact, wound up including Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar. 

“So it’s what it’s. They’re gonna have a superb workforce. Those are the appears we’re gonna must beat. I feel Edmonton is gonna be actually good. I’m positive Vegas can be good once more and discover their footing. Then us and L.A. — all of the groups are good.

“Even Anaheim. If you look at Anaheim’s D-corps, they’re really good. And their goalie, too. So we’ve got to play the games. But that’s why I say learning from last year, we had such a slow start. And then we went 31-15-10. And there wasn’t enough runway, so that’s why you need a good start.”

Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

Josi pulled off probably the most outstanding NHL feats of the century: He totaled 96 factors as a defenseman. And didn’t win the Norris Trophy. And he most likely shouldn’t have.

“Yeah, and you can’t even be mad about it, right? Because (Cale Makar) is so good.”

Is Josi gunning for 100? No motive to not, he mentioned.

“If you ever told me I would get 96 points, I’d probably be laughing at you. So to get 100 I mean — I know how hard that is. But I’d be lying if I said no.”

Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes

One of issues Keller will at all times treasure is attending to play the previous variety of years in Arizona with Phil Kessel, who signed this offseason with the Golden Knights.

“He’s one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with,” Keller mentioned. “He’s such a superb man. He got here to dinner with us each highway journey for 5 years. He loves hockey, (and) he’ll discuss no matter you need to discuss it. People don’t know the way good of a man he’s. He does care and loves the sport. If you’re having a foul day and are available to the rink and see Phil, you’re at all times going to finish up smiling or laughing.

“I’m definitely going to miss him. Two Cups, close to 400 goals. He’s gifted. There’s not many other guys like him.”

Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals

The Caps’ new beginning goaltender is coming off a run with the Avs highlighted by a Stanley Cup win and low-lighted by a terrifying postseason damage that despatched him to the bench. Kuemper’s eyeball, he mentioned, is ok.

Also superb: his hips. Kuemper, 32, is an more and more uncommon specimen — a goalie who hasn’t had any severe hip accidents. If it occurs, he mentioned, he’ll take it because it comes.

“When you’re playing goalie, especially when you’re young, you’re not thinking, ‘How are my hips going to be 20 years from now?’ So you kind of sign up for the position,” he mentioned. “And once it does come up, you’re pretty pot-committed at that point.”

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon, gave a big status report on extension negotiations and that was solely the beginning of the present he placed on for the media, in typical affable vogue. Some highlights:

• On his brief summer time after successful the Cup: “I preferred it.”

• On understanding with Sidney Crosby twice every week: “Yeah, he worked out with me a little bit. I’m joking. I’m joking!” 

• On who’d he prefer to play with if there’s a 2024 World Cup: “Sid and Marchy (Brad Marchand). All from Nova Scotia. It would be a pretty cool thing for us. I’ll play right wing.”

• On the Avs being “the hunted” this season: “Nothing changes. I keep getting asked if I’m going to chill out now. I don’t feel any different. We’re still hunting.”

• On his favourite random congratulatory textual content he received after successful the Cup: “Wayne Gretzky. He’s texted me a few times over the years saying congrats about whatever. But it’s still weird when you see Wayne Gretzky on your phone pop up. It’s like, ‘Wow.’”

• On Alexander Georgiev changing Darcy Kuemper in purpose: “Yeah, it’s just kind of what we do, I guess. We get a new goalie every season now. But Georgy signed a three-year deal, so we’ll see him for three years at least.”

• On Cale Makar: “He’s getting more comfortable in the room speaking his mind. He’s a quiet guy naturally. Sometimes you have to bug him, ‘Tell us what you think, Cale. Stop just sitting there. We want to hear your thoughts. You’re Cale Makar!’”

• On not successful a Hart by 9 NHL seasons: “I’ve been up for three. So it’s just tough to put your happiness into ‘Jim from Philly’ that didn’t vote for me, you know? Like, what am I supposed to do? I can’t help if people don’t vote for me.”

Jim from Philly isn’t right here.

“Bob from Seattle. Whoever it is. Painful. Jim from Philly didn’t put me in his top five, so I don’t win.”

Gretzky has a vote now.

“Gretzky does? OK, cool. It’s all good.”

You can textual content him.

“Yeah. ‘What’s up, man?’ I used to really care about that, for sure. I really wanted to win MVP — and I still do. I’m a competitive guy. I’m not gonna act like I don’t want to win one. But it’s just, in life, you have to play against yourself and be the best version of yourself and see what happens. And hopefully that’s a Hart, and hopefully that’s a lot of stuff. But it might not be. And that’s OK too.”

Was it a gradual factor, or was there one second the place you have been like, “I don’t give a s— anymore?”

“I still do care. I’m not gonna say I don’t care at all. Like I said, you can’t control what people like. It just feels like there’s a new storyline every year around the award. I’ll leave it there. But yeah, you just never really know what people are gonna vote for some years.”

Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Eighty-six factors. Another 29 within the playoffs. Twenty-eight targets. A Norris Trophy. Oh, and a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe and anyone and everyone saying on a workforce stuffed with stars, he’s truly Colorado’s most beneficial participant.

How does Makar comply with all that up?

“For me, it’s not really about topping that,” the 23-year-old star defenseman mentioned. “I don’t actually take a look at that by way of that. I feel simply the consistency. You take a look at all the fellows like (Victor) Hedman and (Roman) Josi, they’re so constant defensively and offensively and supporting their workforce 12 months in and 12 months out. I feel that’s what makes them so distinctive. 

“So just finding that groove and making sure I can be a reliable player for my team every single game is just what I’m going to try to focus on. With team success comes individual success, so that’s the way I look at it.”

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

We coated Matthews’ ideas on plenty of Leafs-related matters over the weekend. It’s time for the extra vital stuff — just like the state of his tennis sport. He picked up the game after wrist surgical procedure within the 2021 offseason, when he couldn’t golf.

“I wasn’t very good,” Matthews mentioned. “And then I began watching it like all year long and received enamored with it. And I feel you discover a totally different degree of respect for the gamers after you play and understand how tough it’s.

“It’s kind of same thing with golf for me. After I started playing golf, I started watching a lot of golf, because you realize how difficult it is and how easy they make it look. I think that’s where it started, and it hasn’t slowed down at all.”

Matthews was unhappy to see Roger Federer retire earlier than he had the possibility to see him reside: “Out of the last 76 Grand Slams, I think (Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal) won, like, 63 of them,” Matthews mentioned. He’s appropriate.

“Same thing with Serena (and) how dominant she was for the longest time. I think it’s just really impressive that they’ve been able to do that for that long a time and sustain that level of competitiveness.”

Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken

McCann, who was Phil Kessel’s stallmate in Pittsburgh, mentioned his former teammate — who’s eight video games from breaking Keith Yandle’s ironman streak of 989 video games with out lacking one — is without doubt one of the misunderstood athletes on the market.

“Phil is so lighthearted,” McCann mentioned. “He never takes things too, too seriously. He was always in the cryo machine and always took care of his body when he needed to.”

“I’m from Toronto, right?” McCann added. “And I grew up watching the Leafs — watching him play. There’s one side in the media and then there’s what you actually meet as a person. Personally, I’ve been through something similar to that where you meet a guy and it’s like, ‘I thought you were like this.’ Phil’s completely different than what people portray him to be. He made me smile a lot.”

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

There can be no Johnny Hockey and no Matthew Tkachuk, amongst others, so McDavid is aware of the Battle of Alberta can have a distinct really feel this season.

“A lot of new faces over on the other side,” he mentioned. “They had a crazy summer, but I thought they did a good job of bringing back those pieces. They added some real good players. They’re going to be a real good team and it’ll be a good challenge.”

McDavid’s lone purpose is for the Oilers to take the following step after their second-round exit to the eventual Cup champion Avs.

“There’s a whole other level to get to,” McDavid mentioned. “They’re a team that went through a lot of disappointments leading up to that. That seems to be the process for teams that win. They kind of get close, they get closer. There’s those disappointments, but you learn from them and you use them when you’re in that situation next.”

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars

Armed with a brand new three-year, $12 million contract and coming off a first-round playoff loss to Calgary wherein he put up sterling numbers of a .954 save share and 1.81 goals-against common, the 23-year-old says he’s able to construct off final 12 months.

There are occasions he nonetheless finds himself in awe.

“I was in the elevators with Marc-Andre Fleury in the bubble, and I called my dad and said, ‘I was just in the elevator with Marc-Andre Fleury,” Oettinger mentioned. “My favorite goalie was Flower, and — you know those fat heads? I had one of those of him in my room. And one of my favorite games I played in the NHL, we played Chicago in Chicago. We won 1-0 in a shootout, and looking down at the other end and seeing him was surreal. Hall of Famer, and to have a win against him, and I got a stick from him, too, so it was a dream.”

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

Reilly was one of the more thoughtful quotes. With an increasing number of ladies incomes management roles in hockey, Rielly was delighted for Hayley Wickenheiser when the most effective ladies’s gamers in historical past was named a Maple Leafs assistant GM in July.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for her,” the defenseman mentioned. “She’s around as much as the players are and has great conversations with myself, with Auston (Matthews), with the guys that are training there during the offseason. Obviously has amazing experiences in our sport and is extremely deserving to be in that position. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for her to prove that gender is not important. It’s about if you’re capable of doing the job, and I think that Hayley is extremely capable. And there are tons of women that are capable. And hopefully there’ll be more opportunities.”

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele knew the query was coming — the Jets had simply introduced that Blake Wheeler is not workforce captain — and spoke for a bit about what the choice means after jokingly questioning why the announcement couldn’t wait till after he’d hopped a flight again to Winnipeg.

The different huge matter for Scheifele was life beneath new coach Rick Bowness, who’s tasked with bringing defensive construction to a workforce that, for years, has struggled in that space.

“I think he’s a great communicator. I know in the conversations I’ve had, he wants to find out how you’re doing. He wants to understand what you’re dealing with and how you feel about things,” Scheifele mentioned. “I think last year, we were a little lost, in terms of what we were doing and why we were doing things. With this fresh start, we have a brand new crop of coaches. You have guys that are all excited about getting a new structure, getting a new system, understanding the system, understanding why we’re doing it. And I think having that purpose in our room is going to do wonders for us.”

Bowness’ Stars workforce, for instance, practically pulled off a first-round win over Calgary regardless of a significant expertise hole, largely based mostly on its defensive ideas. Scheifele was requested if he thought the Jets have the personnel to play the same sport.

“Watching the playoffs, you see the teams that win can win any which way,” he mentioned. “They can win a sport 6-5, however in addition they can win a sport 2-1. They can win a sport 1-0. And I feel that’s what the great groups can do. They can win in numerous fashions. And I feel that’s what we have to be taught as a workforce.

Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal received to be there when older brothers Marc and Eric agreed to phrases with the Panthers — Marc on a one-year contract and Eric on a professional tryout. How did it go down?

“We were on a trip together at Pebble Beach, so I witnessed both their contracts,” he mentioned. “We were sitting on 18 at Pebble Beach, and they were both just super pumped, as was I.”

Jordan can be rooting for Eric, 37, who regardless of going to the Stanley Cup Final with the Habs two years in the past couldn’t land a job final season. He performed 4 video games with the AHL Iowa Wild to tune up for his second Olympics.

“We were all quite surprised. Playing really well with Montreal, going all the way to the Finals, and kind of just getting skunked the next year with nothing,” Jordan mentioned. “It kind of hurt him a little bit and kind of raised a lot of questions, but at the same time, he loves the game. And he’s always said he ‘wants to play until they put me out of here.’ So he’s gonna give it one last go. I think it’ll give him a little more closure, whether it happens or not. It’ll at least kind of let him go out at an easier, more relaxed state than maybe he was before.”

Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights’ captain missed a piece of final season — like loads of his teammates — with an damage.

So, Mark, how is the again?

“I feel waaaay better than I did at the end of the season, so that’s a start,” Stone mentioned. “I feel great.”

Stone, pound for pound, may’ve had the very best session of the day. The highlights:

• On one other offseason of change for Vegas, headlined by Max Pacioretty’s transfer to Carolina: “We expect change every year. The salary cap hasn’t moved in two years, and we’ve spent to the cap. You can’t complain about that. I’ve been on teams that don’t spend to the cap and wish you did. So I’m never gonna complain.”

• On Jack Eichel’s first season in Vegas: ​​”He got here into the lineup after which 4 or 5 of us left the lineup so … y’know. In Buffalo, all of the strain’s on him, and when he got here right here, it wasn’t purported to be on him after which it was all on him.”

“(Before last season) I never met him. Definitely thought he was a bad guy from all the reports. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. This guy works harder than anyone. He wants to win more than anyone. And he just wants to be part of a team that has success. So there’s a lot of false narratives out there about this guy. I think he’s gonna have a big, big-time year for us.”

• On the key to Phil Kessel’s longevity: “I don’t know what the secret is. I really wish I knew. When I first saw him, I was expecting him to be 300 pounds. Furthest thing from it. I mean, this guy can throw weight around the gym. He’s one of the strongest guys — one of most underrated strong guys I’ve ever seen.”

Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens

It was a whirlwind few days for Suzuki after the 23-year-old was named the youngest captain in Canadiens historical past.

Following the nonstop media for that announcement, Suzuki parachuted into Vegas for the media tour. Remember, Suzuki initially was a Vegas Golden Knights first-round decide.

“I guess it’s kind of come full circle this week. It’s been a crazy week,” Suzuki mentioned, earlier than smiling. “I actually saw (Golden Knights management) George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon yesterday and just said hi to them. It was probably a good move for both teams. Weird timing being the captain and now back in Vegas.”

Suzuki was requested about Quebec politicians already popping out of the woodwork to say the London, Ontario, native should be taught French with a purpose to be the Habs’ captain.

“I think they have the right to think that players should speak French,” Suzuki mentioned. “I really feel like guys ought to know a bit bit a minimum of. I took French at school for some time, so I really feel like I do know what I’m speaking about a bit bit once I converse.

“I read better than I’m about to have a conversation. I’m at a pretty good place, but I can get better, too.”

Suzuki mentioned after coach Martin St. Louis advised him this summer time to consider being the following Canadiens captain, he truly began to clean up on his French through the use of Babbel.

Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins

If you have been assuming there’d be any weirdness or antipathy between Swayman, 23, and Linus Ullmark, his goaltending companion with the Bruins, you’d be incorrect.

The postgame hug between the 2 — and so they every began 41 video games within the 2021-22 common season, posting practically equivalent stats — is Example A.

Here’s Swayman on Ullmark: “He was a kind of guys that got here up instantly and mentioned, ‘Hey, I know the position you’re in. You’re a brand new man. I need to be an excellent advocate for you. And that was particular for me to have a brand new goalie coming in. (He was) clearly hungry to play. He knew I used to be hungry to play, as nicely. And to be an excellent teammate, of all issues, that spoke volumes to me. And I needed to thrive off that.

“The hug just kind of developed because we were so excited for each other’s success. Most of all, the team’s success. But to have that goalie-to-goalie connection (when you) understand what we go through every day and understand the grind, and how hard we compete against each other in practice, it really is just a completely emotional, happy thing.”

Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues

Poor Dave Gagner.

The former NHLer turns into an agent, negotiates an eight-year, $65 million contract for Jordan Kyrou — and now Thomas needs to take his fee.

Kyrou recently signed a contract with the exact same terms Thomas beforehand received from the St. Louis Blues.

“I’ve been talking to (Kyrou) the past couple of days. I feel like his agent percentage should just come to me for negotiating his deal,” Thomas joked. “He’s such a good player and great person — one of my really close friends. I’m happy to be in St. Louis with him for so long.”

Thomas, by the best way, appeared like he bulked up this offseason, and that he did.

“I focused a lot on strength this summer — put on probably eight points of muscle,” Thomas mentioned. “Just help me in the corners, help me defensively and be a little more sturdy out there.”

Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators

Was it the evening of Brady Tkachuk’s engagement occasion, or was it the evening Matthew Tkachuk received traded to Florida? Both.

“When it all became official, we were at dinner. I’d just gotten engaged the day before, so we were doing a dinner — my family, my fiancee’s family — and all of a sudden, my mom and Matthew were gone for a little bit,” Brady mentioned. “Then he pulled me aside and was like, ‘Yeah, I just signed in Florida, but don’t tell anyone about it until it becomes official.’ Then three minutes later, it comes out.”

So there was lots to have a good time on the restaurant, huh?

“Yeah. Yeah. It became a pretty fun night out.”

Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers

There’s nonetheless a no preventing rule within the Tkachuk family. But with Matthew now on Florida and Brady all of a sudden in the identical division together with his older brother and the Ottawa Senators a workforce on the rise in comparison with after they performed Matthew’s Calgary Flames within the North Division through the pandemic-realigned season, anticipate some extra heated Tkachuk Bros. matchups.

“We’re looking forward to playing against each other a lot more,” Matthew Tkachuk mentioned. “It was clearly actually enjoyable after we have been enjoying towards one another twice a 12 months, however now the video games, they matter lots. I feel earlier than they didn’t matter as a lot, so we’ll take pleasure in it a bit extra. 

“It’s one of the most special things in the world playing against your brother. The Hughes boys will tell you the same thing. But our teams will be battling for a playoff spot. It’s a really solid division this year. The games will matter a lot more, so we’ll ramp it up a bit.”

Jacob Trouba, New York Rangers

As lengthy as members of Team North America — the under-23 squad on the 2016 World Cup of Hockey — are enjoying the sport, they’re going to be requested about that worldwide expertise. This time, it was Trouba’s flip.

“It’s still one of the most fun experiences I’ve had around a hockey team. Just the practices were insane. Rolling through the lines, just standing in line watching the best players that were that age playing against each other,” Trouba mentioned. “It was a really cool team. It was cool to have guys all that same age out in (Toronto). You talk about team bonding. That team bonded.”

Trouba, formally, is the Rangers’ captain, the franchise’s first since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Lightning in February 2018.

“I feel like every summer, it was a conversation that people were talking about,” Trouba mentioned. “We need a captain, we need a captain, we need a captain. Nothing is gonna really change with our group is run. Everyone still can be themselves. We have multiple leaders. I think it’s just more concrete. There’s not as much concern or worry or talk about it.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

The all-world goalie had one other brief offseason after a 3rd consecutive journey to the Final.

“But I can’t complain,” Vasilevskiy mentioned. “You want your summer to be short every year.”

Vasilevskiy was intrigued when advised of a second straight offseason of musical chairs throughout the league for his fellow goaltenders.

“I don’t read any hockey news because I’m trying to stay away from it,” he mentioned. “But generally, let’s say we’re enjoying a season opener towards some workforce and rapidly the man I’m enjoying towards was once on one other workforce, I’m like, ‘How did he end up there?’

“There’s a lot of goalie carousels. We’ll see how it’s going to work for them. For me, I just always want to be the guy on (the Lightning’s side).”

Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

Werenski is a homegrown star for Columbus — so he is aware of, given the franchise’s latest historical past, how huge a deal it was for Johnny Gaudreau to signal with the workforce when free company opened.

“The city and the fans deserve it,” Werenski mentioned. “They’ve seen a lot of guys walk out the door. And this year, they got to see a guy walk in the door. And it’s the biggest fish on the market. So I’m super excited. I think everyone had the same reaction throughout the city, the organization — I think even management was kind of like, ‘Oh, my God, we just got Johnny Gaudreau.”

Werenski was caught off guard, too. He mentioned he heard it was a chance at round 4 p.m. and discovered the deal was executed on Twitter, together with the remainder of us.

“I called my dad right away, and he was all fired up,” he mentioned. “And then a bunch of FaceTimes: Boone Jenner, Gus Nyquist. All the guys just couldn’t believe it.”

Werenski’s additionally been understanding with Patrik Laine, who’s wholesome and locked up for years and $34.8 million.

“I think he’s in a really good headspace right now,” he mentioned. “He’s in nice form. He’s taking pictures the puck arduous. He simply appears like an All-Star on the market. And these skates, I do know they’re not coaching camp or video games, however he’s simply dominating. It’s enjoyable to observe.

Trevor Zegras

Several of the celebs in Vegas have been excited and hopeful this season can be accomplished with no kinks. It’s again to the previous regular, which incorporates reporters within the locker room. Zegras had no clue that media within the room was ever “a thing.”

“To be completely honest,” he mentioned. “I just figured it was you go into that other whatever media scrum room. That will be a nice wrinkle into next season, for sure.”

Zegras additionally mentioned he was surprised that the QB on his lacrosse purpose, Sonny Milano, nonetheless hasn’t discovered his gig: “Shocked. Yeah, I love that guy. One of the best teammates of all time. I think maybe he’s just looking for the right fit. He lets things roll off his shoulder, so he’s good.”

Has Zegras considered attempting to tug off one thing extra inventive than the Michigan? “Honestly, I’ve got no idea. Maybe it’ll come to me randomly. Usually that’s how it works, is instincts, like if I see something, whatever, a quick twitch. But I don’t have anything planned.”

And lastly, on life with out Ryan Getzlaf: “I mean, it’s weird already being at the rink without him. He’s actually stopped by a couple times, which is pretty funny, just to sharpen his kids’ skates or whatnot. No, it’s weird without him. It’s a big change, for sure. He’s just such a great guy. And he’s 20 minutes down the road, so it’s not like he’s gone forever. You still call or go to lunch or go play golf.”

(Top photograph of Auston Matthews: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

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